Theology for all!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Gospel Dominates

 Luther dealt with Law & Gospel when he dealt with his Saxon visitations. In the 1520s, Luther realized that being freed from the condemnation of the law caused people to love serving others. Luther visited other congregations and was not pleased with what he saw. Luther dealt with antinomianism and other controversies dealing with the concept of sanctification (growing more and more Christ-like). After Luther's death, Melanchthon most prominently describes three uses of the Law. Some people prefer "functions" over "uses." Melanchthon explained how the Law was a curb, mirror and guide. It's been a staple in Lutheran culture since Melanchthon. 

Sanctification to some degree has to do with all three uses of the law, but it's most clearly associated with the third use of the Law. 

Unfortunately, during the Pietist Movement, sanctification began to supercede justification in importance. People were looking within themselves versus outside of themselves (extra nos) for assurance of salvation. 

A Key element to this debate is the Mystical Union


The mystical union is the ontological (literal, physical) indwelling of the Godhead within us. All the language of being conformed to Christ that we see in the Bible, etc. The whole point is intimacy---this is why the apostle Paul was so adamant about the Corinthians being sexually pure. Our relationship with Christ is definitely NOT sexual, but it is intimate. 

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Sanctification is so much more than just moral effort. 


Two problems that show up in Lutheranism in the mid 1900s are Gospel reductionism (no Law preached). The Law shifts from being the eternal will of God to just accusation.  Gerhard Forde would say that the Law only accuses.  He removes the essence of the Law from the distinction of the Law.  This leads to a theology that has nothing good to say about sanctification.  Gerhard Forde has an essay on sanctification, in which he says sanctification is getting used to your justification.  This is not found in Luther, Lutheranism, our Confessions, but most importantly, this idea is not found in scripture. 


 Sanctification is God the Holy Spirit working with us, within us.  

Thursday, January 19, 2023

JUSTIFICATION -- The Nature of Faith

 COOPER: We can talk about justification for a long time, but we will try to navigate it piece by piece.  But before we tackle justification, let's begin with the nature of faith. 

 with the Reformation, the definition of faith itself was questioned.  In the period just prior to the Reformation, faith was just looked at as acknowledging something as true. It's a misunderstanding that stands today, especially among RCs in terms of how they think Lutherans think about faith.  This is far from accurate, and is a caricature of Lutheranism. What we mean by faith goes far beyond mental assent...

Is assent to propositions an element of faith? Is logic a part of faith? It is, but that's not all that faith entails..

As Lutherans, we divide saving faith into three different elements: 

NOTITIA -- your knowledge of the facts of the Gospel. 

ASCENTARE -- acceptance of the facts

FIDUCIA --- trust. 

We have scriptures that say "contend for the faith (Jude 1:3)." This passage is not necessarily talking about personal faith, but it has a broader scope. 

We will also be looking at Romans 3 & 4. Paul explains justification masterfully, as well as in Galatians. 

In Romans 4, Paul quotes Genesis 15. What's happening in Genesis 15? God is establishing His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15: New American Standard BibleWhat then shall we say that Abraham, [a]our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified [b]by works, he has something to boast about; but not [c]before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”Now to the one who works, the wages are not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Romans 4 is probably the clearest and detailed text on justification. There is nothing in this text that describes faith as just intellectual acceptance. Rome says that faith needs something else to be valid, because they believe that faith is simply mental acceptance of the truths of the faith. Rome would say, "faith formed by love." 

Dr. Cooper had a conversation with a Roman Catholic philosopher about Romans 4.  What happened was that Mr. Philosopher did not really deal with Romans 4, but wanted to keep moving on to other texts. 

We believe in love just like Rome, but we look at love differently. Lingan is a Lutheran who wrote on Luther's doctrine of vocation, and it is really good. Faith is Christ-oriented and receieves love. Love is different from faith in that it descends. So for Luther, love belongs to the left-hand kingdom, or this world.  Faith is heavenly; love is earthly. Speaking of faith, how do we even reconcile infant faith and baptism with the idea of mental agreement with the faith?


What do we do about infant baptism? There are tons of passages in the Bible. But Psalm 73 stands out because it's a Psalm of Asaph-- John the Baptist, David and Asaph. 

  1. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and had him stand by His side,
  2. and He said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”
  3. 15 Now they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for the little ones, saying, “Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 

  4.  Infant faith and infant baptism are proofs that faith is more than just intellectual belief.  Now that we've spent so much time on faith, we will dive into justification proper!! JUSTIFICATION -- WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

  5. It is a significant point of debate. What is justification? We generally define it as a legal term, where we are declared righteous. There is both forgiveness and imputation of righteousness in justification. 

  6. Roman Catholics -- made righteous vs. Protestants -- declared righteous ---

  7. Augustine saw justification as God making us righteous, versus being declared righteous. But interestingly, Luther does not follow Augustine in this.  Why? Augustine did not have knowledge of New Testament Greek (Koine Greek). This is a major problem, because many of the Western Fathers spoke Latin instead of Greek.  So less and less people understood the Greek New Testament, and were relying on the Latin translations. Jerome's Vulgate is an example of this problem. The Vulgate mistranslated justification. By the time of Luther, the Latin translation says "do penance" instead of "repent." During the Renaissance, one of the things that were revived were the ancient languages. 


  9. The theme of the Renaissance was for people to get back to the sources (ad fontes).  Luther was a mystic and Melanchthon was a humanist. When the two of them joined forces, they were reading the Theologica Germanica (anonymous) as well as the writings of Renaissance humanists. So all of this influenced their views on faith, and justification and righteousness.


  11. First, Lutherans make a distinction between two kinds of righteousness -- Coram Mundo (our righteousness before man), and Corum Deo (our righteousness before God).  Any renewal that we have in our will is all God's doing. When the Holy Spirit works, He is still working through us. We really have faith, but the credit is the Spirit's credit.  We recieve love, redemption, justification and sanctification, all by faith: 

  12. 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 28 and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no human may boast before God. 30 But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

  13. So we place all our insurance in and on Christ. Period.  Galatians is crucial for this.  Now there are different terms Lutherans use to describe justification, which we will look at below. 

  14. OBJECTIVE VS SUBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION -- Objective is universal, this reality that the world has been justified through the work of Jesus. Subjective --- You HAVE to recieve by faith that Christ died for you in order for it to be effective.   One of the reasons why this was so controversial because of the "Kokomo Theses" put forth by one of the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) districts. But it is important to note that 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 4:25 say.  They talk about us being justified in the Spirit (vindicated is the English word used).  More to come on all of this as we explore more Orthodox Lutheran doctrine!! 

Friday, January 13, 2023

The Application of Salvation

 Order of Salvation.  Dr. Cooper prefers Weidner over Pieper.

Mystical Union is something that is important to Dr. Cooper and he believes it to be extremely biblical. 

We are finishing our discussion from Doctrine I about Christ being prophet, priest and king. It's really soteriology. There are two latin terms historia salutis (history of salvation, order of salvation). It's not the history of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, but the order of salvation in terms of how salvation is applied to us in real time.  We have to have some objective way that salvation applies to us personally. As we continue to move, we will discuss the sacraments.

Someone thinks that the order of salvation is a number of steps you have to take in order to obtain salvation.  In some authors, there is an abuse of the Ordo Salutis. David Holatz is a good 17th century theologian to read concerning this. What comes first, sanctification or justification?

Reformed Vs. Lutheran Ordo Salutis --Reformed theology is very logical in it's structure. The Lutheran Ordo is more messy. In the Reformed Ordo Salutis, authors consider the doctrine of justification to be a one time event that happened in the past. We don't have to be as systematic as the Reformed without having to make them fit.


Grace -- there are different ways the scriptures use the word "grace," which Lutherans view as the favor of God, and Roman Catholics view grace as something that is continually working through us.

Preparing Grace -- conviction of the Spirit before conversion

Cooperating Grace -- this is a synergism that Lutherans shy away from. But Lutherans are adamant about contextualizing that grace.

Preserving Grace -- not something that is due to the human will, either.

Glorifying Grace -- in heaven, fully glorified and sanctified.

Rome has kind of changed its tactics. Roman Catholic apologists will often sound Protestant according to Cooper.  

The Reformed on Grace & Calling -- They consider grace to be discriminating, irresistable, and limited. For Lutherans the call is indiscriminate, resistable and universal.
Many are called but few are chosen:
For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Romans 8....a Puritan called it the Golden Chain of Salvation. Starting with verse 28..

Romans 8:28-37

New American Standard Bible

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?36 Just as it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

In Ephesians 1, Paul uses election as a word of assurance.

And Hebrews 6 gives insight...The Danger of Falling Away

6 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and produces vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things regarding you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we are speaking in this way.

Gerhard Forde's "Where God Meets Man" is a good book to read.
The call of God in Lutheranism is radically different from Calvinism. Then we move from the call to conversion.
Then there is illumination, the conversion of the mind.
There is plenty of biblical "light and darkness" language. Acts 26:18,

Acts 26:16-18

New American Standard Bible
16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you as a servant and a witness not only to the things in which you have seen Me, but also to the things in which I will appear to you,17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Ephesians 5:8

Ephesians 5:8

New American Standard Bible
for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light

We try to justify everything we do, and we live hypocritically, and judge others for the things we do ourselves. The ordering of our affections got reversed in the fall. The affections and desires would be subject to the intellect if it was not for original sin.

Preaching salvation in different metaphors.
Romans 12 is good for regeneration and conversion.